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Disturbing Sun   By: (1902-1981)

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Illustrated by Freas

[Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from Astounding Science Fiction May 1959. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

This, be it understood, is fiction nothing but fiction and not, under any circumstances, to be considered as having any truth whatever to it. It's obviously utterly impossible ... isn't it?

An interview with Dr. I. M. Niemand, Director of the Psychophysical Institute of Solar and Terrestrial Relations, Camarillo, California.

In the closing days of December, 1957, at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New York, Dr. Niemand delivered a paper entitled simply, "On the Nature of the Solar S Regions." Owing to its unassuming title the startling implications contained in the paper were completely overlooked by the press. These implications are discussed here in an exclusive interview with Dr. Niemand by Philip Latham.

LATHAM. Dr. Niemand, what would you say is your main job?

NIEMAND. I suppose you might say my main job today is to find out all I can between activity on the Sun and various forms of activity on the Earth.

LATHAM. What do you mean by activity on the Sun?

NIEMAND. Well, a sunspot is a form of solar activity.

LATHAM. Just what is a sunspot?

NIEMAND. I'm afraid I can't say just what a sunspot is. I can only describe it. A sunspot is a region on the Sun that is cooler than its surroundings. That's why it looks dark. It isn't so hot. Therefore not so bright.

LATHAM. Isn't it true that the number of spots on the Sun rises and falls in a cycle of eleven years?

NIEMAND. The number of spots on the Sun rises and falls in a cycle of about eleven years. That word about makes quite a difference.

LATHAM. In what way?

NIEMAND. It means you can only approximately predict the future course of sunspot activity. Sunspots are mighty treacherous things.

LATHAM. Haven't there been a great many correlations announced between sunspots and various effects on the Earth?

NIEMAND. Scores of them.

LATHAM. What is your opinion of these correlations?

NIEMAND. Pure bosh in most cases.

LATHAM. But some are valid?

NIEMAND. A few. There is unquestionably a correlation between sunspots and disturbances of the Earth's magnetic field ... radio fade outs ... auroras ... things like that.

LATHAM. Now, Dr. Niemand, I understand that you have been investigating solar and terrestrial relationships along rather unorthodox lines.

NIEMAND. Yes, I suppose some people would say so.

LATHAM. You have broken new ground?

NIEMAND. That's true.

LATHAM. In what way have your investigations differed from those of others?

NIEMAND. I think our biggest advance was the discovery that sunspots themselves are not the direct cause of the disturbances we have been studying on the Earth. It's something like the eruptions in rubeola. Attention is concentrated on the bright red papules because they're such a conspicuous symptom of the disease. Whereas the real cause is an invisible filterable virus. In the solar case it turned out to be these S Regions.

LATHAM. Why S Regions?

NIEMAND. We had to call them something. Named after the Sun, I suppose.

LATHAM. You say an S Region is invisible?

NIEMAND. It is quite invisible to the eye but readily detected by suitable instrumental methods. It is extremely doubtful, however, if the radiation we detect is the actual cause of the disturbing effects observed.

LATHAM. Just what are these effects?

NIEMAND. Well, they're common enough, goodness knows. As old as the world, in fact. Yet strangely enough it's hard to describe them in exact terms.

LATHAM. Can you give us a general idea?

NIEMAND. I'll try. Let's see ... remember that speech from "Julius Caesar" where Cassius is bewailing the evil times that beset ancient Rome? I believe it went like this: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings... Continue reading book >>

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